"Come on, Ms. Gray!"
"We have classes to go to!"
"You're going to make us late!"
I heard all three of these today.
If you read my last article, you'll know that I decided not too long ago that I wasn't going to baby my students anymore. That became extra shown today.
We're reading Martin Luther King, Jr's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and I have to say, they hate it. Nonetheless, it's ninth grade standards, and I have to bring history into the classroom, so here we are.
One of the reasons they hate it is probably because of the word usage. I mean, this letter was written by a forty-something man who was in jail in the 60's, and the way they said things were just a little different than the way we say things. So there are a few words that ninth graders (heck, that even I) don't know or understand. So what do you do?
You give them vocab words.
Ah, yes. Vocabulary. And they have forty of them. You might be saying to yourself: "Forty? That's a lot!"
This is true, but some of them are words ninth graders should already know: nonviolent, criticism, and conscience are just a few of the words that they should know.
This is the way I'm doing this. They'll have a vocab quiz every day with some of their vocab words on it. When everyone in the class gets a word right, the word gets marked off of the list in the back that has all the words on it. When a word is marked off, that word won't be on their test at the end of the unit. But if anyone cheats, no words come off for that quiz, even if everyone else gets it right.
Seems fair to me.
But whatever words are left on the list, those words will be on the test.
They decided this was unfair and chose to just let all words be on the test. Why? Because they're lazy. And I don't do laziness. So I told them that they should do it or get a zero. They hated me.
Also, during the same class period, I kept them past the bell.
I was giving instructions, the bell rang, and they all stood up. Very promptly, I asked them to sit back down because they wouldn't know how to do their homework if they weren't going to listen. They all hated me, yet again. I again made them stay when the desks that they moved weren't put in the correct spot.
I finally let them leave when they had heard my instructions, put all their desks back in the proper spot, and were silent for a few seconds.
This is how I became the meanest teacher in the world. And you know what? The "good" kids still like me.
Basically what I'm saying is: when you're a new teacher, I know what it's like to want to fit in and to want people to like you. But sometimes, you have to bring down the hammer. Some of them will hate you, but it'll be okay. If they're ever disrespectful, don't accept it. Keep them. I have three students from one class period staying in my room during a pep rally this week because they kept talking while they were supposed to be taking their quizzes. And you know what?
I don't feel bad about it at all. Know why?
Because they're learning respect. And that's something they're going to always need.